CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 965064 jsj

Ms. Barbara Wierbicki
Tompkins & Davidson, LLP
One Astor Plaza
1515 Broadway
New York, New York

Re: Container With Hinges, A Latch, A Plastic Window And A Plastic Handle; Tin-Plated Iron or Steel; “Storage Tin/Girls Handbag”; General Rule of Interpretation 3(b); Subheading 7326.90.1000, HTSUSA; HQ 963539 (April 12, 2002) Incorporated By Reference.

Dear Ms. Wierbicki:

The purpose of this correspondence is to respond to your request of May 24, 2001, and received by the Customs Information Exchange in New York on the same date. The correspondence in issue requested, on the behalf of your client Accessory Network Group, Inc., a binding classification ruling of the merchandise described as a “storage tin/girls handbag.”

This ruling is being issued subsequent to the following: (1) A review of your submission dated May 28, 2001, which included photocopies of literature exhibiting different styles of the “storage tin/girls handbag”; (2) An examination of the sample submitted to the Customs Service; (3) Review of electronic correspondence between your office and the Office of Regulations and Rulings concerning the precise merchandise for which you are requesting a binding classification ruling letter; (4) A review of your correspondence dated May 24, 2001, provided to this office by facsimile on January 29, 2002; and (5) An informal conversation conducted with a member of my staff on January 29, 2002.

This ruling letter, pursuant to your electronic correspondence of January 24, 2002, and a review of your facsimile correspondence dated May 24, 2001, will only address the container. The child’s pocket book, key ring, miniature notepad, earmuffs and gloves submitted with the container will not be classified. It is specifically noted that no ruling is being provided concerning the possibility of any accumulation of merchandise being classified as a set, nor should this letter be considered as addressing any packaging issues.


The article in issue, identified in Accessory Network’s literature as a “storage tin/girls handbag,” is a container composed of sheet steel with a clear plastic window on one side. The container has a small base that measures approximately five and one-half (5 ½) inches, a mid-section that measures approximately ten and one-half (10 ½) inches across at its widest point and then curves towards the top of the container. The container measures approximately eight and one-quarter (8 ¼) inches from top to bottom and is approximately three (3) inches in depth.

The “storage tin/girls handbag” features a plastic handle at the top of the container that swivels from front to back. It secures closed by means of a metal latch. The container opens outward with circular bent metal hinges on the bottom. When open, the container side lays at a ninety-degree angle.

The clear plastic window is on that aspect of the container that opens outward. The window has the same shape as the side of the container and is approximately one-half the size of the side panel of the container. The window makes the contents easily visible.

Although the article is made of tin-plated sheet steel, it is not constructed for long-term or rigorous use. The handle, plastic window and the metal clasp are not designed or constructed for significant wear.

The container is marked as a product of China.


What is the classification, pursuant to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated, of the above-described tin-plated steel container identified as a “storage tin/girls handbag” ?


The Customs Service in Headquarters Ruling Letter 963539 (April 12, 2002) classified substantially similar containers in subheading 7326.90.1000, HTSUSA. Subheading 7326.90.1000, HTSUSA, provides for:

7326 Other articles of iron or steel:


Of tinplate.

The legal reasoning and analysis employed in HQ 963539 is adopted by reference. Headquarters Ruling Letter 963539 is attached to and made a part of this ruling letter.

The Customs Service additionally notes that although the merchandise in HQ 963539 is substantially similar to the instant merchandise and although the legal reasoning and analysis is similar as well, the classification of this merchandise requires additional legal analysis. The instant merchandise has a plastic window that the containers in HQ 963539 did not have. The proper classification of the “storage tin/girls handbag” requires consideration of this aspect of the article.

The “storage tin/girls handbag” may not be classified pursuant to GRI 1, because no single heading of the HTSUSA provides for the article. General Rule of Interpretation 2 also fails to provide for the classification of the item. The container is not an incomplete or unfinished article as addressed in GRI 2(a). It is also not a good consisting of a mixture or combination of materials or substances that may be classified pursuant to GRI 2(b).

General Rule of Interpretation 3 is applicable because as stated in GRI 2(b) “goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be [classified] according to the principles of rule 3” and as initially provided in GRI 3, the plastic and steel aspects of the item are “prima facie classifiable under two or more headings.” See General Rule of Interpretation 2(b); General Rule of Interpretation 3. The plastic handle and window in the container are classifiable in heading 3926, HTSUSA, as “Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914.” The tin-plated steel aspect of the container is classifiable in heading 7326, HTSUSA, as “Other articles of iron or steel.”

General Rule of Interpretation 3(a) is not applicable to this classification issue because neither heading 3926, HTSUSA, nor heading 7326, HTSUSA, provide “the most specific description” of the “storage tin/girls handbag.” Resort to GRI 3(b) offers assistance in the classification of this article.

General Rule of Interpretation 3(b) addresses the classification of, among other items, composite goods made up of different materials. The “storage tin/girls handbag” is a composite good made of two distinct materials, plastic and steel. Continuing the classification of the article in accordance with GRI 3(b), the merchandise is to be classified as if it consists of the component that gives it its “essential character.” See General Rule of Interpretation 3(b). The Explanatory Notes to GRI 3(b) provide that “[t]he factor which determines essential character will vary between different kinds of goods” but, offers an illustrative list of factors that may be considered. General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System, Rule 3(b), Explanatory Note (VIII). The factors which the EN lists as relevant for the determination of the “essential character” of an item include: (1) The nature of the material; (2) Its bulk; (3) Its quantity; (4) Its weight or value; and (5) The role played by the constituent material in relation to the use of the good.

The Customs Service, subsequent to considering the factors set forth in the Explanatory Notes, concludes that the material that affords the container its “essential character” is the steel. The steel is the dominant material by its nature, bulk, quantity, weight, value and the role it plays in the construction of the container. The container, without the steel component, would not be a container. The container, in accordance with the dictates of GRI 3(b), is classified as if it consisted of steel, without regard to the plastic window or handle.

The tin-plated steel container with hinges, a latch a plastic window and a plastic handle, identified by Accessory Network Group, Inc. as a “storage tin/girls handbag” is classified in subheading 7326.90.1000, HTSUSA, pursuant to the analysis provided in this ruling letter and in HQ 963539.

The Customs Service specifically notes for the attention of counsel and the importer that Customs has not undertaken a laboratory analysis to confirm that the container in issue is tin-plated steel. Customs has relied on the express statements of counsel for the importer in the submission dated May 24, 2001. Should the container not prove to be tin-plated, this would significantly impact the classification and rate of duty of this merchandise and would, additionally, bear negatively on the importer’s obligation to use reasonable care in the classification, value and entry of its merchandise.

The Customs Service is aware of HQ 964234 (April 23, 2001), HQ 961707 (Mar. 19, 1999) and PD C85024 (Mar. 31, 1998) classifying similar metal containers in Chapter 42, HTSUSA. Customs is re-examining the classification of this merchandise and considering whether this merchandise should be classified in heading 7326, HTSUSA, of Chapter 73. If a decision is made to re-classify the merchandise addressed in the identified ruling letters, the Customs Service will proceed in accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625 (c).


The tin-plated steel container with hinges, a latch, a plastic window and a plastic handle, identified by Accessory Network Group, Inc. as a “storage tin/girls handbag” is classified in subheading 7326.90.1000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated.

The General Column 1 Rate of Duty is FREE.

The legal reasoning and analysis employed in HQ 963539 (April 12, 2002) is adopted by reference. Headquarters Ruling Letter 963539 is attached to and made a part of this ruling letter.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division